The Best of the Blog: Three 2023 posts worth remembering (and rereading)

By Michael Grossberg

Although 2023 has ended, it’s interesting and illuminating to look back at the highlights of the past year – and perhaps read an article that you may have overlooked. For the Prometheus Blog, there were quite a few memorable posts.

Robert Heinlein (Photo courtesy of the Heinlein Trust)

Among my personal favorites:

* author Karl Gallagher’s tribute to Robert Heinlein and appreciation for his 2023 Hall of Fame winner, “Free Men.”

* William H. Stoddard’s illuminating essay on “Economics in Science Fiction” (along with a critique of the common “overproduction” myth), and

* a commentary on one of the most unheralded firsts of the year: basically, the first libertarian-individualist-themed sci-fi film to ever win the Oscar for best picture.

Continue reading The Best of the Blog: Three 2023 posts worth remembering (and rereading)

Did Academy Awards voters just give their top 2023 Oscar to an individualist and libertarian science fiction film? Yep – pretty much!

By Michael Grossberg

Did something significant to science fiction – actually, unprecedented – just happen at the Academy Awards?

It wasn’t really highlighted in any media reports I came across, but isn’t Everything Everywhere All at Once the first outright science fiction film to win the Oscar for Best Picture?

And not only that, but the Best Picture winner is especially intriguing to consider from a libertarian futurist perspective: Is it possible that this year’s Academy Awards recognized one of the most pro-freedom films to ever win an Oscar for best picture?

Such questions are sparked by an intriguing column on Reason magazine’s blog: “Oscar-winning Everything Everywhere All At Once Celebrates individalism, Free Will.”

Continue reading Did Academy Awards voters just give their top 2023 Oscar to an individualist and libertarian science fiction film? Yep – pretty much!

Best of the blog, part 2: Six more 2022 reviews, interviews worth rereading about libertarian science fiction

By Michael Grossberg

What were the “best” Prometheus Blog articles of 2022?

Which were the most illuminating and/or the most surprising? (No surprise that I happen to have some favorites.)

Looking back and following a recent blog post recommending six favorites from last year, I picked six more favorites among the more-than-weekly 67 blog posts of 2022, which offered a wide range of reviews, essays, author interviews, awards updates and Prometheus-Award-winner appreciations

Second chances don’t always occur in life, but the first few weeks of 2023 offers a timely opportunity to look back at some of the best Prometheus blog articles of 2022.

Continue reading Best of the blog, part 2: Six more 2022 reviews, interviews worth rereading about libertarian science fiction

A dystopian action film with radical and libertarian ideas: V for Vendetta, the 2007 Prometheus Special Award winner

Only two films have been recognized with Special Prometheus Awards since that occasional awards category was first presented more than two decades ago: Serenity and V for Vendetta.

Here is an appreciation of V for Vendetta, the 2007 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner:

V for Vendetta, a Warner Bros. Pictures feature film released in 2006, offers a powerful and poignant indictment of totalitarianism as a brutal denial of not only our liberty but our very humanity.

“Some movies fade on repeated viewings while others maintain their brilliance. V for Vendetta is a stellar example of the latter…. The movie  is simply brilliant,” Fred Curtis Moulton wrote in his rave review, printed in the Spring 2007 issue of Prometheus, the LFS’ quarterly newsletter.

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Self-reliance and libertarian ideals on the frontier: Prometheus-winning novelist Travis Corcoran on Joss Whedon’s Serenity, the 2006 Prometheus Special Award winner.

To highlight the Prometheus Awards’ history and make clear why each winner deserves recognition as a notable pro-freedom work, the Libertarian Futurist Society publishes an ongoing Appreciation series of all award-winners.

Here is the Appreciation by Prometheus-winning novelist Travis Corcoran for writer-director Joss Whedon’s film Serenity, which received a Prometheus Special Award in 2006.

By Travis Corcoran

Like almost every science fiction fan, and like almost every libertarian, I was a fan of the TV series Firefly from the first episode of it I saw.

Firefly, and later Serenity, are about several things that are near and dear to the hearts of liberty-lovers: the frontier, voluntary – not coercive – exchange, an uneasy relationship with authority, self-reliance, and the trade-offs that inevitably come from uncompromising moral codes, nonconformism, and a healthy skepticism for the default paths through life.

Continue reading Self-reliance and libertarian ideals on the frontier: Prometheus-winning novelist Travis Corcoran on Joss Whedon’s Serenity, the 2006 Prometheus Special Award winner.

Review: Sacrifice and survival in the film Avengers: Infinity War

Robert Downey Jr., who portrays Iron Man in the Avengers films (Creative Commons license)

By William H. Stoddard

The films that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe are an unusual, and possibly unique artistic project: a cinematic series set in a shared fictional universe, one that develops from film to film, with later films referring to earlier.

Of course there have been trilogies and other series of films, but this design not only is at a greater length, but has multiple branches following different groups of characters. There’s a main storyline that began with The Avengers and progressed through Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, and The Black Panther, but other films have told different types of stories: a mock epic in Guardians of the Galaxy, a caper film in Ant-Man, and a story of supernatural initiation in Doctor Strange, for example.

The latest film, The Avengers: The Infinity War, attempts to bring these all together into a climactic story—or at least, the first half of one; it ends with a cliffhanger. I went into the theater not sure this film would be worth seeing, and I can see some flaws in it, largely reflecting the vast differences in tone among the earlier films; but the overall result was impressive and moving. And I think this largely reflects the central role of theme in the script.
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Futures in Collision: Firefly’s Divided Society

Actor Nathan Fillion, who played Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds. Creative Commons photo by vagueonthehow. 

By William H. Stoddard

In the decade and a half since Firefly came on the air, it’s emerged as one of the high points of television science fiction, both for its characterization, and for the unusual depth in which its setting is imagined. In fact, that depth helps explain the characterization. The crew and passengers of the Serenity come from different places in a complex world, and their motives and relationships reflect this.

On a first viewing, they’re inevitably two-dimensional, inviting the watcher to see them as dramatic stereotypes. Fitting the description of Firefly as a “space Western,” they often seem like Western stereotypes: the cynical veteran, the glamorous dance-hall girl, the preacher, the naïve city dweller out of his depth. But over the course of the first (and only) season, viewers came to know their backstories, and to see their actions in more depth, in relation to their pasts as well as their presents.
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Prometheus winner ‘Ready Player One’ divides opinion, but will be out soon as a movie

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, the 2012 Prometheus Award winner (in a tie, with Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze) is about to become much better known. A movie version, directed by Steven Spielberg, will be released March 30.

Not everyone has climbed on Ernest Cline’s bandwagon.

Continue reading Prometheus winner ‘Ready Player One’ divides opinion, but will be out soon as a movie